A Harvest Story
At about that same time Jesus left the house and sat on the beach. In no time at all a crowd gathered along the shoreline, forcing him to get into a boat. Using the boat as a pulpit, he addressed his congregation, telling stories.
“What do you make of this? A farmer planted seed. As he scattered the seed, some of it fell on the road, and birds ate it. Some fell in the gravel; it sprouted quickly but didn’t put down roots, so when the sun came up it withered just as quickly. Some fell in the weeds; as it came up, it was strangled by the weeds. Some fell on good earth, and produced a harvest beyond his wildest dreams.
“Are you listening to this? Really listening?”
Jesus told this story to people who knew all about growing plants from seed. It was an incredibly important thing to get right, or they would have no food. In a lot of the world today, it still is. Generally, in Britain, we don’t know a lot about that now - most of us buy our food and getting the seeds to germinate for the wheat that will make our bread is someone else’s problem.
Though the story is often called ‘the Parable of the Sower’, it has a lot to say about the soil. The ‘sower’ is teaching the people about the Kingdom of God, spreading advice and knowledge about how to follow Him. The people respond to that in different ways, based on what’s in their hearts and souls, and what’s going on in their lives.
By telling the story, Jesus wants us to ask our selves what sort of ‘soil’ we are: what happens to the Word of God inside each of us?
Are we just not interested? Can God’s Word of love and peace not not get through our hard surface? Maybe we hear and get really excited: Yes! Jesus tells us to love one another and to take care of the people who need help - that’s what I want to do! But then we see someone picking on a younger kid, and we look away and walk past because we’re a bit scared of them too. Or, maybe we think: I really want to follow Jesus, but he said all those things about giving to the poor, and I like all my stuff … and my life’s just too busy to go to Mass, or spend time saying prayers.
We need to make our hearts and souls into the best kind of place for God’s love to grow. How can we do that? Do we need to soften up a bit and let the Word in, so we can be open to love and compassion? Do we need to think more deeply about what our faith means, so we can get it rooted in real commitment? Do we need to fertilise and nourish our faith by listening again to what Jesus taught, and by talking to him in prayer? Do we need to make room for God by clearing our lives and our thoughts of some of the stuff that doesn’t really matter, or by sorting out the busy-ness that uses up time we need to give to God and to others.
The sower in the parable is scattering the seed everywhere - not just on the ‘good’ soil. Jesus is telling us there’s always hope for us to change and make a good home for his Word within us.
Talk to the gardeners in your family and they’ll tell you that you don’t just give up on poor soil - you clear and improve it. It will grow beautiful and useful things with some love, attention … and fertiliser!
Salesian Communications Worker
Help me to welcome you into my soul.
Show me how to change my life to make room for you.
Guide me to the things I need to root my faith more deeply.
Make me a rich soil where God’s love and compassion will grow,
And then give me the strength and courage to sow it myself,
among other people.